Monaco, The Catholic Church in
MONACO, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Monaco, the second smallest state in the world after the Holy See, is a tiny enclave located on the Mediterranean shore of France near the Italian border. Rugged hills characterize the terrain, while the climate is moderate, with mild winters and dry summers. With no natural resources and no agricultural means, the region relies on tourism and small industry for its wealth. Of its total population in 2000, only one fifth were actual citizens of the principality.
The area was controlled by the Phoenicians from the 10th to the 5th century b.c. and then by the Phoceans. Rome dominated the region during the Christian era until barbarians and then Saracens invaded it. After the Genoese were granted feudal rights over the area at the end of the 11th century, it came under the House of Grimaldi in 1297. The principality, annexed to France (1793–1814), was placed under the protection of Sardinia in 1815, and under that of France in 1861. Monaco has been a sovereign principality ruled by a hereditary constitutional monarch since 1911. The construction of a gambling casino in the 19th century established the region as a world-renown tourist destination. Prince Rainier III has been king of the region since 1949.
History. It is unknown when Christianity entered the region. While the relics of St. Devota are said to have been brought to Monaco shortly after her martyrdom in Corsica under Diocletian, the historicity of the martyrdom, and even of the existence, of this patron saint of Monaco, rests on sources from as late as the 11th century. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction rested with the bishop of Cimiez, whose see was united with that of Nice in the 5th century. The oldest reliable historical document (1075) mentions the chapel of St. Devota being restored to the Abbey of St. Pons of Cimiez. In 1078 the Church of St. Mary was constructed at the base of the Rock of Monaco and was given to the bishop of Nice. The Rock itself was owned and inhabited by the abbey and the commune of Peille until the end of the 11th century, when control passed to the Genoese who fortified it. The abbey erected the chapel of St. Martin. The parish of St. Nicholas, whose church edifice was started in 1252, was placed under the bishop of Nice. From 1206 the prior of St. Devota acted as spiritual and temporal lord, in the name of the Abbey of St. Pons, for most of the surrounding countryside and for all the present-day principality except the Rock.
In the 14th century the Grimaldi gained control of the Monegasque fortress and over the next two centuries obtained by purchase the possessions of the priory. This family, which became a princely one in the 17th century, chose the pastor and curates of St. Nicholas, but ecclesiastical powers came from the bishop of Nice. In 1868 the principality was separated from the diocese of Nice and made an abbey nullius immediately subject to the Holy See. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built at the end of the 19th century. Leo XIII's bull Quemadmodum (March 15, 1887), which regulated the juridical condition of the Church, created the diocese of Monaco immediately subject to the Holy See. According to this document, which was substantially an agreement between the pope and the prince of Monaco, Catholicism was officially named the state religion. The government subsidized the Church and, in exchange, enjoyed extensive privileges, including that of presenting a trio of names for episcopal appointments, nomination of all canons except one and of the pastors and curates of all churches except that of St. Charles in Monte Carlo, which is reserved permanently to the clerks regular of the mother of god.
By 2000 Monaco had five churches tended by 13 diocesan and eight religious priests, in addition to its cathedral. Other religious included a brother and 22 sisters who maintained the principality's Catholic schools. Monaco enjoyed diplomatic relations with the Holy See and maintained a minister plenipotentiary in Rome. While Protestant faiths had increased their influence by the 1990s, the government discouraged proselytizing and access by some cults was also discouraged. The Mass was
incorporated into most solemn government celebrations and other festivities.
Bibliography: g. handley-taylor, Bibliography of Monaco (London 1961). m. de trenqualÉon, Monaco, la Corse, et Ste. Devote (Paris 1902). h. chobaut, Essai sur l'autonomie religieuse de la principauté de Monaco jusqu'à la création del'évêché (Monaco 1914). baud, L'Abbaye nullius de Monaco (Monaco 1914). l.h. labande, Histoire de la principauté de Monaco (Monaco 1934). Bilan du Monde, 2:617–618. Annuario Pontificio.